The Funny Side of Sex: How Acceptable Are Sex Appeal Adverts in Different Cultures and What Role Does Humour Play?

By Silke Maria Engelbart and Delia Anne Jackson.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Communication

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 3, 2016 $US5.00

How acceptable is the use of sex appeal and nudity in advertising in different cultures? Sex sells, yet a number of factors influence the success; the degree of nudity and sexual imagery; when does sex appeal cross the line to become sexist and immoral? Do sex appeal images become more acceptable if humour is added to the mix? Sex appeal/nudity or humour has been the base of advertising campaigns for a long time. This paper compares results from previous research regarding the influence that humour and ethnic background can have on the acceptance of sex appeal advertising. Participants from China, France, and the Czech Republic were shown humorous and non-humorous sex appeal ads from six countries. Focus group discussions showed that there were clear differences between levels of acceptance, reflecting the relevant masculine or feminine culture. Research has not focused on the combination of sex appeal, humour, and ethnic background in a national or intercultural context to any great extent. This paper is a further step to address this gap.

Keywords: Communication, Advertising, Sex

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Communication, Volume 11, Issue 1, March 2016, pp.15-49. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 3, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 935.538KB)).

Silke Maria Engelbart

Senior Lecturer, School of Language, Literature, and International Studies, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire, UK

Delia Anne Jackson

Senior Lecturer, School of Language, Literature, and International Studies, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire, UK